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Fish Sauce Recommendations
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  • Fish Sauce Recommendations

    Post #1 - February 1st, 2012, 2:05 pm
    Post #1 - February 1st, 2012, 2:05 pm Post #1 - February 1st, 2012, 2:05 pm
    I am new to cooking with fish sauce. Anyone have brand recommendations? The only one I've ever used was the generic version they sell at Dominick's (Thai Kitchen maybe?) and I pitched it after the one recipe I used it for.
  • Post #2 - February 1st, 2012, 2:21 pm
    Post #2 - February 1st, 2012, 2:21 pm Post #2 - February 1st, 2012, 2:21 pm
    My favorite is 3 Crabs but I have a few others on hand, too. It really depends on what you're making.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #3 - February 1st, 2012, 2:41 pm
    Post #3 - February 1st, 2012, 2:41 pm Post #3 - February 1st, 2012, 2:41 pm
    I'll toss in a +1 for 3 crabs and mention that you can find it pretty easily on Argyle or at Golden Pacific.
  • Post #4 - February 1st, 2012, 3:34 pm
    Post #4 - February 1st, 2012, 3:34 pm Post #4 - February 1st, 2012, 3:34 pm
    When cooking with it, I use Three Crab, or even the cheaper Tiparos.

    When used plain as a dip or to make nước mắm pha, where I need more of the fish flavor to shine through, and not so much of the saltiness, I'm sold on this stuff from red boat: http://redboatfishsauce.com/

    It is the only fish sauce authentically made in Phu Quoc that we can readily get available in the states.
  • Post #5 - February 1st, 2012, 8:16 pm
    Post #5 - February 1st, 2012, 8:16 pm Post #5 - February 1st, 2012, 8:16 pm
    I don't like Three Crabs at all. I would recommend Squid brand, instead. Best on the market, IMO. I used to get mine at the late, much lamented Thai Grocdery on Broadway, but they always have it at Marketplace on Oakton, thank God!
  • Post #6 - February 1st, 2012, 8:25 pm
    Post #6 - February 1st, 2012, 8:25 pm Post #6 - February 1st, 2012, 8:25 pm
    I'm also not a fan of Three Crabs. If I'm not mistaken, it's made with wheat in addition to fish, and has added sugar. None of which matters if it tastes good, of course, but while it's been a number of years since I gave up on it, I remember feeling really let down by it after trying a whole horde of them side by side.

    Erik M. turned me on to Golden Boy, though it can be a little tricky to find. And I'm totally with pacent on the new(ish) Red Boat, though that's a little pricier. Still, you're talking about a few bucks difference per bottle. Money well spent, I think.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #7 - February 1st, 2012, 8:35 pm
    Post #7 - February 1st, 2012, 8:35 pm Post #7 - February 1st, 2012, 8:35 pm
    In the name of research, I just did a side by side taste test of Squid and 3 Crabs.

    for what it's worth...

    CAVEAT: Tasted a newly opened bottle of 3 Crabs against a half empty, 3 month old-ish bottle of Squid (I don't consider that old btw). Obviously this wasn't scientific.

    Immediately, upon tasting, the 3 Crabs hit me in the following order: anchovy, then umami, then salt then sweet. Squid was salt, anchovy, umami.

    For straight up tasting, it was 3 Crabs by a landslide.

    I am now having visions of 3 Crabs Bloody Mary's garnished with Issan sausage, shrimp and cilantro skewers for Super Bowl Sunday. Thanks LTH :wink: !!!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #8 - February 1st, 2012, 9:40 pm
    Post #8 - February 1st, 2012, 9:40 pm Post #8 - February 1st, 2012, 9:40 pm
    On the subject of fish sauce analyses:

    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=113408#p113408
  • Post #9 - February 1st, 2012, 11:49 pm
    Post #9 - February 1st, 2012, 11:49 pm Post #9 - February 1st, 2012, 11:49 pm
    Hi,

    Sometime ago, The Reader's Mike Sula waxed poetic about The Finest Fish Sauce in the World.

    Of course, when anyone is that enthusiastic, I have to have a bottle. Since Mike advised it was available at H-Mart. I spent some time looking for Phu Quoc with the distinctive three goldfish on the label. While I came up empty handed, I did have an entertaining conversation with the manager. This is an excerpt of an e-mail I sent to Mike:

    I brought the article with the bottle's picture to the front desk. The manager said they don't have it, haven't had it in months and may never have it again.

    I pointed out it was supposed to be a pretty good fish sauce with some claiming it may be best in world. I then got a lecture on regional tastes with one person's great is another person's so-so. He thought you were rather bold to suggest it was the best in the world. When I asked him what was his favorite fish sauce, he replied he doesn't like fish sauce.

    I suggested I may not be the only person coming here looking for this sauce. He rolled his eyes, which I gathered to mean he already had fielded similar inquiries.

    I have an unopened bottle I bought last spring after Mike found some at H-Mart. There were two three-goldfish bottles varying in price by 75 cents with one labeled superior.

    I haven't finished my other bottles of fish sauce yet, otherwise I would comment. However, at less than $4 a bottle, it is certainly worth giving a shot. Pretty cheap, when you consider how good it is supposed to be.

    Maybe a side-by-side taste testing should be arranged. Maybe a direct taste as well as same product cooked similarly. That might not pass muster with Erik M who definitely had opinions on when various fish sauces should be used.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #10 - February 1st, 2012, 11:58 pm
    Post #10 - February 1st, 2012, 11:58 pm Post #10 - February 1st, 2012, 11:58 pm
    I have some Squid on-hand, too, which I really like...not as much as 3 Crabs, though.

    Edit to add that in my experience places that carry 3 Crabs generally carry Squid as well.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #11 - February 2nd, 2012, 7:09 am
    Post #11 - February 2nd, 2012, 7:09 am Post #11 - February 2nd, 2012, 7:09 am
    From what i have read and seen on a few videos the best is supposed to come from the island of Phu Quoc and not contain sugar, msg or any other ingredients other than anchovy, salt and water.
    Most of the commercial fish sauce sold for decades in the US came from Thailand and fish sauce from Vietnam was all but impossible to obtain. I did purchase the bottle on the left somewhere in Chicago and don't remember if on Argyle St or at H Mart. In any event it's from Vietnam but does contain sugar.
    The other two bottles are from a relatively new supplier and do not contain anything but the classic three ingredients. The 40 and 50 on the labels refer to the protein content.
    http://redboatfishsauce.com/
    Only available on-line in this area and touted by a few, i placed an order. Now this is certainly upscale and replaces the 99 cent plastic bottles we started purchasing 20 years ago to a new price point.
    Three of us tasted these three sauces and the subjective conclusions were that the Red Boat 40 was the most pleasing of the three undiluted on the palate. The RedBoat 50 is strong and surely the essence of fish Sauce. We decided that for Pho additions, the Double Golden Fish Brand would suffice nicely but for condiments mixed with garlic, Thai chile's and the like, the Red Boat was clearly preferred, 40 or 50, take your pic.-Dick
    Image
  • Post #12 - February 2nd, 2012, 12:38 pm
    Post #12 - February 2nd, 2012, 12:38 pm Post #12 - February 2nd, 2012, 12:38 pm
    Anyone know how long you can keep Fish Sauce? Should it be tossed after a certain period?
  • Post #13 - February 2nd, 2012, 1:52 pm
    Post #13 - February 2nd, 2012, 1:52 pm Post #13 - February 2nd, 2012, 1:52 pm
    bw77 wrote:Anyone know how long you can keep Fish Sauce? Should it be tossed after a certain period?


    Usually is 24 months (two years) from the date of manufacture. After opening, use the contents within a year. For optimum freshness it is best to refrigerate the product after opening. Natural sea salt may occasionally crystallize on the bottom of the bottles of the fish sauce. This is a natural process and does not affect the product quality in any way.
  • Post #14 - February 2nd, 2012, 3:44 pm
    Post #14 - February 2nd, 2012, 3:44 pm Post #14 - February 2nd, 2012, 3:44 pm
    budrichard wrote:Most of the commercial fish sauce sold for decades in the US came from Thailand and fish sauce from Vietnam was all but impossible to obtain. I did purchase the bottle on the left somewhere in Chicago and don't remember if on Argyle St or at H Mart. In any event it's from Vietnam but does contain sugar.

    This is the Phu Quoc fish sauce Cathy referenced above. The "Superior Grade" with the orangeish label contains no sugar. It is on the shelves right now at HMart.

    TonyC sent us a bottle of Red Boat from LA, and I agree that it is fine stuff.
  • Post #15 - February 2nd, 2012, 11:34 pm
    Post #15 - February 2nd, 2012, 11:34 pm Post #15 - February 2nd, 2012, 11:34 pm
    pacent wrote:When cooking with it, I use Three Crab, or even the cheaper Tiparos.


    I second Tiparos, as well as Squid, as my go-to fish sauces.
  • Post #16 - February 3rd, 2012, 5:52 pm
    Post #16 - February 3rd, 2012, 5:52 pm Post #16 - February 3rd, 2012, 5:52 pm
    Used to be a 3 Crabs fan, then I switched to Squid, my go to: read about Red Boat in the last issue of Saveur, then this chat pushed me into the drink, just ordered a bottle of 40N off the website. Man, living in Indianapolis sure comes with it's surcharges: one bottle 10 bucks plus 6.95 shipping. Well, I spend more on vinegars and oils. If I wasn't so impatient I'd have friends in the three main distribution areas(NY, LA, Florida) send me a bottle. But, I AM impatient.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #17 - February 3rd, 2012, 6:42 pm
    Post #17 - February 3rd, 2012, 6:42 pm Post #17 - February 3rd, 2012, 6:42 pm
    I've always used Squid brand. I took some cooking classes in Koh Samui & the chef insisted that Squid was the only brand to use & to make sure to buy that one when we came back to the US. So that's what I did :lol:
  • Post #18 - February 8th, 2012, 9:12 am
    Post #18 - February 8th, 2012, 9:12 am Post #18 - February 8th, 2012, 9:12 am
    "This is the Phu Quoc fish sauce Cathy referenced above. The "Superior Grade" with the orangeish label contains no sugar. It is on the shelves right now at HMart."

    Thanks for the info.
    Was at H Mart last Saturday and indeed there are three versions of the 'Double Golden Fish Brand'.
    One with 'anchovy extract, salt, water, sugar, one with 'anchovy, salt, water' and one with a sub label 'Superior Grade' with 'anchovy, salt ,water.
    The regular grade was $4.49 and the 'Superior' was $4.99, pricey for fish sauce, but with 'Phu Quoc' on the label and from Vietnam. The producer is Thanh Ha Fish Sauce Co. Whether produced on the Island of Phu Quoc is anybody's guess? I purchased two bottles of the 'Superior' grade.
    Three tasters, each experienced with fish sauce available over the years in the US, were given each of the four pictured sauces in little white bowls and asked to compare. The testing was not blind. From right to left, sauce with sugar, 'Superior', Red Boat 40 and Red Boat 50.
    Surprisingly, all three tasters thought that the sauce with sugar was very appealing. Now whether that was due to a history of having tasted fish sauce with sugar added over the years or some other factor, I can't say. The Double Golden without sugar and the Red Boat 40 were judged similar with the nod going to the Red Boat as being a little better, whether fresher or more rounded is hard to say. The Red Boat 50, again stood out on its own as the essence of fish sauce.-Dick
    Image
  • Post #19 - February 8th, 2012, 9:27 am
    Post #19 - February 8th, 2012, 9:27 am Post #19 - February 8th, 2012, 9:27 am
    Dick,

    How much did you pay for the two different Red Boats as well as shipping costs, if any.

    When I bought my three gold fish bottles, it was last spring. I am pretty sure I paid under $4 for each. Unfortunately the price of just about everything has drifted up lately.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #20 - February 8th, 2012, 9:42 am
    Post #20 - February 8th, 2012, 9:42 am Post #20 - February 8th, 2012, 9:42 am
    budrichard wrote:"This is the Phu Quoc fish sauce Cathy referenced above. The "Superior Grade" with the orangeish label contains no sugar. It is on the shelves right now at HMart."

    Thanks for the info.
    Was at H Mart last Saturday and indeed there are three versions of the 'Double Golden Fish Brand'.
    One with 'anchovy extract, salt, water, sugar, one with 'anchovy, salt, water' and one with a sub label 'Superior Grade' with 'anchovy, salt ,water.
    The regular grade was $4.49 and the 'Superior' was $4.99, pricey for fish sauce, but with 'Phu Quoc' on the label and from Vietnam. The producer is Thanh Ha Fish Sauce Co. Whether produced on the Island of Phu Quoc is anybody's guess?


    There are a number of Thai-Chinese produced fish sauces labeled "Phu Quoc" that are not manufactured on the island. Fish sauce manufactured by the Thanh Ha Fish Sauce Co. is indeed produced on the island. You have to read the fine print. Can you describe the 3rd version you came across?
  • Post #21 - February 8th, 2012, 12:43 pm
    Post #21 - February 8th, 2012, 12:43 pm Post #21 - February 8th, 2012, 12:43 pm
    "Can you describe the 3rd version you came across?"

    Pretty much like the 'Superior' pictured, no sugar listed.
    Thanks for the info on Thanh Ha.

    "How much did you pay for the two different Red Boats as well as shipping costs, if any."

    Product Model Price Quantity Total
    Red Boat Fish Sauce 40°N - 500ML 500 ML Square Bottle $10.00 2 $20.00
    Red Boat Fish Sauce 50°N - 80ML - 2 Pack 80 ML Round Bottle (2 Pa $14.99 1 $14.99
    Sub-Total: $34.99
    Flat Rate: $8.90
    Total: $43.89
  • Post #22 - February 8th, 2012, 2:48 pm
    Post #22 - February 8th, 2012, 2:48 pm Post #22 - February 8th, 2012, 2:48 pm
    The Double Golden without sugar and the Red Boat 40 were judged similar with the nod going to the Red Boat as being a little better

    If they are almost on par, then the one purchased at H-mart for just under $5 isn't too bad a deal. Or is Red Boat 40 better enough to pay double and transportation?

    From your experience, what is the best use for Red Boat 40?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #23 - February 8th, 2012, 4:59 pm
    Post #23 - February 8th, 2012, 4:59 pm Post #23 - February 8th, 2012, 4:59 pm
    surgically-excised von meine Facebuch zu der LTHvoroom:

    Placed an order for Red Boat fish sauce 40 N; yes, I've joined the cult. I used to be a 3 Crabs guy, then I got into Squid brand...here's hoping Red Boat floats my...

    ...the bottle arrived and I promptly made sine qua non Vietnamese pork chops(using lamb chops that I had on hand) in caramel sauce with rice: I'm liking Red Boat 40 N; it doesn't pull any punches, is robust unlike 3 Crabs or Squid Brand...an umber, rotten, palate-tickling je ne sais quoi

    me like
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #24 - February 8th, 2012, 9:35 pm
    Post #24 - February 8th, 2012, 9:35 pm Post #24 - February 8th, 2012, 9:35 pm
    OK, awright, yinz've done it again: sent me out for a new version of one of my old fave ingrediments. Just put in an online order for Red Boat. I'll report back.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #25 - February 8th, 2012, 9:40 pm
    Post #25 - February 8th, 2012, 9:40 pm Post #25 - February 8th, 2012, 9:40 pm
    Geo wrote:OK, awright, yinz've done it again: sent me out for a new version of one of my old fave ingrediments. Just put in an online order for Red Boat. I'll report back.

    Geo

    Absolutely. I have some on the way myself.

    =R=
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #26 - February 9th, 2012, 10:15 am
    Post #26 - February 9th, 2012, 10:15 am Post #26 - February 9th, 2012, 10:15 am
    Cathy2 wrote:The Double Golden without sugar and the Red Boat 40 were judged similar with the nod going to the Red Boat as being a little better

    If they are almost on par, then the one purchased at H-mart for just under $5 isn't too bad a deal. Or is Red Boat 40 better enough to pay double and transportation?


    We have decided to use the Double Golden 'Superior' for soups both Thai and Vietnamese and the Red Boat 40 for dipping sauces and marinades. The Red Boat 50 is on hand just because and will probably be only used in dipping sauces.

    If I had to answer your question succinctly, the answer would be no rationally.

    Cathy2 wrote:From your experience, what is the best use for Red Boat 40?

    My experience is limited because the Red Boat only arrived about 2 weeks ago but as I said, dipping sauces and marinades where you want the best undiluted flavor. I think in a soup, the 'Superior' and Red Boat 40 would be indistinguishable. Now using the Red Boat 50 would be another story in a soup!-Dick
  • Post #27 - February 9th, 2012, 10:22 am
    Post #27 - February 9th, 2012, 10:22 am Post #27 - February 9th, 2012, 10:22 am
    The best Nuoc Mam I have ever find in a Chicago store was the Phu Quoc botttled in the island of the same name in Vietnam by the local subsidiary of the well-known brand of KNORR, a Swiss manufacturer of soups, sauces, and condiments. At the time of my purchase in 2007, it was distributed in the U.S by the Canadian branch of the food giant UNILEVER. It was essentially made of anchovy extract from anchovies fished around the island and fermented in wooden barrels, sea salt, water, and the inevitable disodium guanylate.
    I paid $ 3.00 for a 16.9 FL Oz at Viet Hoa, a very old Vietnamese mini-supermaket on Argyle where I still shop nowadays.
    Unfortunately, I have never been able to find this brand gain anywhere in Chicago.
    Recently I have been using Squid, but it is not as good as the Knorr.
  • Post #28 - February 9th, 2012, 10:28 am
    Post #28 - February 9th, 2012, 10:28 am Post #28 - February 9th, 2012, 10:28 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    Geo wrote:OK, awright, yinz've done it again: sent me out for a new version of one of my old fave ingrediments. Just put in an online order for Red Boat. I'll report back.

    Geo

    Absolutely. I have some on the way myself.

    =R=

    A little explanation about myself. I can't stand not being able to obtain products for cuisines that are authentic.
    For decades we have been making Vietnamese foods and eating in Vietnamese restaurants using Thai fish sauce. Now there is nothing wrong with Thai fish sauce but in researching fish sauce, it became evident that I could not obtain the Vietnamese product and especially that from Phu Quoc. So this has been a search for over 10 years and many kinds of fish sauce constantly looking for ones with no sugar and/or from Vietnam. the Phu Quoc with Sugar was I believe the first labeled as a product of Vietnam that I could obtain. It is very good, the Red Boat 40 is simply better but only incrementally and the Red Boat 50 certainly fulfills ones expectations of a superior product.
    Sometimes the searches cost me a few dollars and effort but in the whole they have been worth the cost and effort.
    When products become too expensive and the market unreliable, I stop purchasing those products such as Truffles and Truffle flavored products and Sturgeon Caviar. There is a cost/benefit that must be taken into account even if one was a Billionaire!
    So, if I have been of assistance in some new products and purveyors, I'm glad.
    You will have to be the judge if the costs/efforts are worth while.-Dick
  • Post #29 - February 9th, 2012, 10:34 am
    Post #29 - February 9th, 2012, 10:34 am Post #29 - February 9th, 2012, 10:34 am
    alain40 wrote:The best Nuoc Mam I have ever find in a Chicago store was the Phu Quoc botttled in the island of the same name in Vietnam by the local subsidiary of the well-known brand of KNORR, a Swiss manufacturer of soups, sauces, and condiments. At the time of my purchase in 2007, it was distributed in the U.S by the Canadian branch of the food giant UNILEVER. It was essentially made of anchovy extract from anchovies fished around the island and fermented in wooden barrels, sea salt, water, and the inevitable disodium guanylate.
    I paid $ 3.00 for a 16.9 FL Oz at Viet Hoa, a very old Vietnamese mini-supermaket on Argyle where I still shop nowadays.
    Unfortunately, I have never been able to find this brand gain anywhere in Chicago.
    Recently I have been using Squid, but it is not as good as the Knorr.


    I have shopped at Viet Hoa many many times in the last 20 years. One just has to be careful of the age of the product. Since the opening of H Mart, I probably only make it to Argyle Street about twice a year to eat and shop. I do love the Street but coming from Wisconsin, H Mart is closer.
    I think if you find the Double Golden 'Superior', you will like it.-Dick
  • Post #30 - February 9th, 2012, 2:14 pm
    Post #30 - February 9th, 2012, 2:14 pm Post #30 - February 9th, 2012, 2:14 pm
    Bud,

    Thanks for the clarification. It appears chasing down Red Boat 50 is the way to go. As long as we can get superior Three Gold Fish at H-Mart, there is no need to acquire Red Boat 40.

    Thanks for taking one for the team.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast

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